Why we do it
STRENGTHENING THE PILLARS AND ALTERNATIVE SPACES FOR CIVIL SOCIETY AND MEDIA IN TRANSFORMING DEMOCRACY
Democracy in Indonesia goes so dynamically. The outcomes of formal and instrumental changes, at least in the scope of liberalization of politics and freedom of mass media, take place very convincing. Since the opening of participation space entitled reformation, the stream of participation is very strong, increasing the roles and influences of civil society parts of the process of decision making (Yappika, 2013). Positive stories at the national and local levels in some cases are worth appreciating (IRE, 2012). On the elementary basis as indicated by enactment of regulations, the scheme of development program and a series of agendas of renewing the scheme of strategic decision making in the sectors of economy and politics constitute the good marks of reformation products.
However, in the process, the qualities of the progress and results have not been optimally achieved. In fact, it can be said to be stagnant if cannot be considered getting lesser. Reaction and critical responses keep emerging. For example, there are legal actions made against procedural democracy that evidently is co-opted by practice of corruption within, besides the oligarchy in the institutions of political representation (Demos, 2009). Tension due to politics of identity, money politics, corruption (ICW, 2012) and government’s finance management that is poor and not transparent (Fitra, 2013) as well as many legal problems shadowing the progress of democracy become serious alarm for immediate restoration of the condition. Certainly, there are still many other facts worth revealing here.
The system that is considered democratic is marked by the increase of people participation in the process of decision making in many issues and at different levels. In this case, we certainly can measure how far the political system of government in Indonesia has adapted the values mentioned above. Are there attempt having been done to strengthen people’s pillars in order that the process of transition can go better to the ideal order of democratic system?
Based on the analysis and evaluation of changes resulted so far, there are some parties claiming that the reformation is still idle or there is no any convincing change. The fundamental reformation demands like cleansing of the government from corruption, human rights enforcement, equality of development, socio-economic quality of life, structuring of agrarian and also implementation of representative function in controlling the running of power have not shown expected results (PSHK, 2013, KPA, 2012).
The stagnancy in achieving expected outcomes is still debatable. Today the government and the House of Representatives are on progress of discussing the amendment of the Law No. 32/2005 on local government. After the Law No. 6/2004 on Village was ratified, the bills of the law on local government, the law on local elections and the law on the balance of national and local finance have been on the process (IRE, 2014; KPPOD, 2014). Despite the repetitively adjustments, these laws are the milestones of changes in Indonesian system of democracy. They correct the weakness of the regulations on governmental organization and its implementation. Besides regulating the decentralization of authority between the central and local governments, they also regulate the election of local leader and also authority of village level.
Outside the process as stated above, some important achievement worth noting are among others the issue of various instruments for encouraging spaces of participation for the people and civil society in the process of decision making either at the stage of planning, implementation or monitoring. Even, the issue of the Law No.14/2008 on Transparency of Public Information has become an important instrument for the people to make access to policies (Faculty of Social and political Sciences; GMU, 2009) As mentioned above, decentralization of authority and finance is granted not only at the level of regency/city as in the early reformation era but also at the level of the smallest unit of administration, namely village (Fitra, 2013).
People participation in fulfilling their needs to obtain public service now has also been regulated and it has become obligation for state apparatus to provide it. It has been regulated in the Law of Public Services and Law of Indonesian Ombudsman. In enforcing the principles of transparency, the State also has guaranteed the people to have access to public information (Yappika, 2012). This guarantee is given through the Law of Transparency of Public Information, which was ratified in 2008 after a long process of struggle and advocacy by the civil society.
Today the roles of civil society and media almost cannot be separated. Civil societies in Indonesia keep fighting for the principles of good governance for putting the foundation of democratization process. Meanwhile, media that are often called as the fourth pillar in democracy (the other three pillars are civil society, government and private sector) struggle to build transparency and accountability in steering the wheels of good government on the aspects of politics, economy, etc. In fact, the process of advocacy for transparency and access to information by media has come to the level of community (CRI, 2012).
Media nowadays have many faces like civil societies, moreover when they are related to the issue of ownership. Media no longer can be fully considered as watch dog in the process of building transparency and accountability. Dominant ownership of media can change the direction of the ideal missions, furthermore if the media are parts of industry (in which the companies owning the media certainly must maximize their profits). In short, the two pillars are very dependent on the engine/machine used. The variety of machine pushing the movement of media sector has been apparent now. Various alternative media and social media have become parts of the movement of realizing good governance.
Civil societies now have many faces and types, ranging from those vis a vis dealing with the State to those acting as collaborative parts of the government system. The current trending role of civil societies is that they collaborate with the government as critical partners, either at the national, provincial or district level. The struggles of civil societies have been able to make milestones as stated above. However, it must be admitted that their struggles are still far from success. Along with media, they still have to keep fighting to increase the quality of intended governance as well as to lead the process of democratization for achieving the ideals of the State.
In addition to the roles of civil society and media, the other arena that can be used to build alternative space for democracy is art. In some initiatives having been done, it has been proved that art can be medium of expression to push social change or at least to build public awareness of social discrepancy, corruption in bureaucracy, and other fields.
Based on the context and arguments above, apparently it is necessary to take new measures for conducting the change with emphasis on the strengthening of the ability of civil societies to comprehend the process of democratic transformation that is more fundamental and substantial. It needs any organization that concentrates on constructing the pillars of civil societies and helping them strengthen their capacity to engage with media in influencing strategic policies and creating alternatives spaces that are more expressive in the process of democratic transition. It is expected that this organization is able to participate in encouraging the increasing of the quality of advocacy conducted by civil societies, media and other actors aiming to enforce the principles of good governance both from supply side (the State’s roles) and from demand side (the roles of civil societies and media)
The efforts of increasing the quality of advocacy are done through various researches on the needs of advocacy, both for the issues that have been stated previously and the issues that will be developed later as long as meeting with the conditions of civil rights enforcement and opening opportunity for people at every level to participate in decision making process from planning, budgeting to monitoring.
Besides through particular research of advocacy needs, the institution is also able to do evaluative researches and monitoring of the results of programs related to any advocacy aimed to make sure program implementation runs on the right track. In addition, the institution also provides capacity building for various actors from both supply side – including legislative – and demand side in order that they are able to strengthen their participation in planning and budgeting, conducting advocacy, implementing the results of advocacy and monitoring the recommendations of advocacy results.
Limited organization is also possible to do as an effort of developing alternative spaces that can strengthen the process of democratic transition as well as increasing the quality of governance at all level of decision making.
This institution will also encourage the strengthening of civil society organizations and grassroots groups through assistance and advocacy orientated on opening spaces of expression and dialog with all relevant parties.
The engagement quality improvement is expected to have an impact on the quality of the change itself. Thus, in turn, the process of democratic transition that has lasted this long in Indonesia will be able to obtain positive results and maturity of each actor will be built with a variety of alternative spaces that were agreed as part of the dialogue and space of new or renewed negotiations.
There are three main objectives declared by the CCES organization as a measure that can be measured in real terms to see the quality of the changes, i.e:
Increasing the State’s responsibility to the public as it has been declared in the constitution.
Increasing influence of civil society in the decision-making process and its implementations
Increasing the quality of the social responsibility of the capital owners